Has Southampton's bubble has burst after three successive defeats? This was not so much a case of Saints' system being found out of as a defence that had conceded only twice at St Mary's falling victim to individual errors and a wonder strike - even if the way the goals went in does raise questions about the depth of Mauricio Pochettino's squad.
The home side had 77 percent of the possession but never looked comfortable at the back in the absence of injured goalkeeper Artur Boruc, who is expected to miss another five weeks after breaking his hand in last weekend's defeat at Chelsea, while Pochettino's decision to give Maya Yoshida his first league start of the season in the centre of defence with Jose Fonte not fully fit backfired spectacularly.
So even though Saints twice came back to equalise, they were always vulnerable to a quick-breaking Villa side, now unbeaten in five games. The result was a first home reverse of the season and the first time Southampton have lost three games in a row under Pochettino. With Nathaniel Clyne and Victor Wanyama limping off, the situation could get worse at home to Manchester City on Saturday before it gets better.
Villa manager Paul Lambert was unimpressed by the possession statistics. “Show me a stat that wins you a game of football,” he said. “I thought we deserved to win. We were lethal in front of goal.” And that was without Christian Benteke, benched after failing to score for seven matches. Gabriel Agbonlahor charged through to beat Guzan's deputy Paulo Gazzaniga and score his first of the season after 15 minutes when Yoshida badly misjudged Fabian Delph's pass.
Jay Rodriguez leapt above the Villa defence, now minus the injured Ron Vlaar, to equalise three minutes after the break but Libor Kozak, unchallenged, headed Villa back in front after 64 minutes. Vlaar-less Villa caved in again five minutes later, Dani Osvaldo diving to head in from close range. Ten minutes from time, though, Delph ran at a retreating defence before finding the top corner from 20 yards. - an overdue first goal in the Premier League.
Pochettino played down Osvaldo appearing to raise his hands to a Villa player as the teams left the field. “It is the sort of game you lose one time in a thousand,” he said. “We're on a bad run but we have to keep on working because we have a very tough game on Saturday as well.”
Man of the match Delph.
Match rating 8/10.
Referee J Moss (W Yorks).